I’m writing about an unusual topic this week; the post office. Last week I had a less than pleasant experience at my local post office which prompted me to do some research into how to streamline use of their services. What I came across was a noteworthy service that I am excited to try. Note that I am not affiliated with this service, or endorsing it, but I am encouraging anyone who must use the USPS to save their time and patience by finding an alternative to approaching the post office counter.
I was out running errands last week, one of which was to mail copies of amended tax returns via certified mail to the IRS. When I arrived at the post office (in the middle of the afternoon) I was surprised to find a line of probably 20 people waiting to be helped. It looked as if people were lining up early for the next iPhone release.
Having made this my first stop of the day, I walked past the line of unhappy customers to fill out a few certified mail labels and then left for about a half an hour to run my other errands and come back. When I returned, to my amazement, the line had barely moved! There were different faces but the line was still as long! I had to mail the returns and at that point was stuck waiting in line for about 30 minutes to do so.
I could have used the postal kiosk available at the front entrance of the post office but I have had issues with the kiosk in the past. I feel that it has not only charged me the incorrect postage, but I’m also not confident I have received the mail service I desired (certified mail). It may have been user error but I’m pretty good with technology so I’ll toot my own horn here and say that’s not likely. I’m less concerned about the prices I have been charged and the lack of usability with the kiosk and more concerned that my mail get where it needs to go correctly. Using the kiosk also requires me to go to the post office and the whole point of my blog this week is to alleviate that chore.
Another option is to use a private delivery service like UPS or FedEx, but because 99% of what I mail goes to the IRS, I feel it is imperative that I use their preferred method of delivering correspondence. It should also be noted that UPS and FedEx could cost upwards of 10x what the USPS charges and therefore is cost prohibitive most of the time. There is still the need to find a drop-off point or schedule pickup for items, which isn’t the end of the world, but not nearly as convenient as tossing outbound mail into any mailbox box for the carrier.
An employee could easily handle the mail for me as well, but the reality is that it would be a waste of their time as well and no one should have to stand in line as long as I did last week for a three minute transaction to mail something.
Finally, there is an online solution which I will discuss in detail below.
My Digital Discovery
Since most of what I mail is sent via certified mail it was really important to me that any online service I use be able to accommodate this service. Typically, certified mail must be handled at the post office in person but after some searching I came across a company called SimpleCertifiedMail.com. Their service will allow me to create an account, pre-fund a postal account (which is refunded if I cancel my account), create certified mailings when I need them, and pay a service charge only when I use the service (no monthly fees). The company even provides special envelopes to use that are compatible with their service and tracks everything digitally for me in one place! According to their website, once I purchase my postage and assemble my items to mail, I can drop everything in the nearest mailbox and move on with my day. Although I have yet to try this service, I am really excited for the prospective boost in productivity & efficiency that it will bring me by not having to make any more trips to the post office.
A Note to Readers
You might be wondering why I’m even writing this blog. Well, I like to share efficiency hacks whenever I stumble upon them and because I’m probably not the only person in the world with this dilemma I felt I should share this one. For those of you reading that send mail without the need of certified service, or those who send the occasional package, I would still encourage you to use whichever service you prefer (USPS, UPS, FedEx, etc.), but be sure to pay, print, and prepare everything for mailing at home or your office before you drop your item off for shipping. There is absolutely no reason to wait in the long tangled lines of the post office in today’s digital world (unless you have a truly unique situation). Most services even allow you to schedule a pickup time so you never have to go to their location to send anything.
I know I’m not the only who has been through this. Feel free to share other options I missed or your experiences with the USPS and the other private delivery services in the comments section below!